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Globalization just became easier

There’s a great story this weekend about advances in machine translation, this time of speech that can be translated almost instantly in real time, while capturing the intonation of the speaker so that the translated voice sounds like their own.  The advance is made by “using deep neural networks that learn to recognize sound in much the same way as brains do.”

“Software that can translate spoken English into spoken Chinese almost instantly has been demonstrated by Microsoft. The software preserves intonation and cadence so the translated speech still sounds like the original speaker.”

I used to predict this in speeches over 25 years ago.  There is such an obvious demand for simultaneous real-time translation that it was almost bound to come.  As it becomes more refined and even less error-prone, it is easy to think of what it can do for international trade, as well as for international understanding. Expect before very long that the first summit conference between world leaders will take place with the assistance of this technology, so they can talk to each other directly, instead of through the cumbersome medium of interpreters.  And as for those EU meetings with dozens of different languages…..

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